As a latte enthusiast, having a hot beverage is a great way to start or end your day. Usually, most latte lovers cherish their drink when it has an incredible texture and ample supply; this will aid in awakening your taste buds. However, we were torn to deciding on how to choose from frothed or steamed milk.

When it comes to making a perfect delight will highly depend on your ingredients. This will include the type of coffee beans to the milk of your choice; each ingredient is vital when it comes to making coffee.

Frothed milk is, by far, one of the best ways in which you can achieve a perfect layer for your beverage. The extra richness and foam are an incredible way of upgrading from your traditional coffee brewing.

This process will make your beverage more precious, making it one of the best drinks to have during cold weather. However, it can be challenging to choose between frothed or steamed milk for the best taste; therefore, you should consider sticking around to find out which will best suit your needs.

Before we could decide on how to choose from frothed or steamed milk, we have to understand each difference.

Deciding on How To Choose From Frothed Or Steamed Milk

What is frothed milk?

Understanding what frothed milk is will give you a clear view of what to expect. The art of creating small bubbles in milk through injecting air in your beverage as you heat molecules to generate foam is referred to as frothing.

These small bubbles created will top up your beverage and aids in enhancing the creaminess of your milk, offering a better texture. Simply, frothed milk is the final result of the frothing process. Milk that has undergone the frothing process creates a smooth and foamy texture.

How to Choose from Frothed or Steamed Milk

What is the difference between steaming and frothing milk?

For a newbie or untrained eye, steaming and frothing might seem similar; this is often because both processes are achieved through the use of similar tools- the steaming and the espresso machine.

Nevertheless, the type of technique used, and the final result tend to differ significantly in terms of smoothness and texture; this is what forms the primary differences between these processes.

Usually, the frothing process involves simultaneous heating of your milk and then introducing air to the drink, forming bubbly foam. These tiny bubbles get generated by inserting a steaming wand’s tip in your milk and then varying its depth continuously as the volume of your milk increases.

Your steaming wand should be kept near your metallic pitcher’s rim; by doing so, you will be able to create and maintain the vortex accordingly.

On the other hand, steaming milk is achieved through heating your milk with a steaming wand. There will be a slight formation of foam; however, the final product will have a less heavy texture on your tongue compared to frothed milk.

Usually, the steaming process involves placing the steaming wand in your milk, allowing the formation of a vortex—the swirling of your milk in the pitcher aids in facilitating even heat distribution in the milk.

Best types of milk for frothing

The type of milk you use to make frothed milk has a significant impact on its taste. Some of the best milk to use in frothing includes;

1. Dairy milk

In frothing, non-fat, whole fat, lactose-free, organic, and 2% milk tend to produce the perfect froth for a tastier and creamier beverage. This is often; as a result, its perfect percentage of protein along with fat component in the dairy milk.

2. Non-dairy milk

When it comes to frosting, milk from plant sources can still work as an outstanding alternative for frothing. Some of the best plant-based milk include; coconut, almost, and soy milk; however, macadamia milk tends to have the best frothing when it comes to nuts.

In addition to that, you might consider broadening the spectrum and include goat, oat, and cashew milk; unlike other milk, these milk sources will require patience as well as endurance throughout the entire process.

how-to-foam-milk-at-home

Optimal frothing temperature

When exposed to heat for an extended period, proteins become easily denatured. Therefore, due to their nature, the optimal temperature of frothing your milk should be between 140 to 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit. Moreover, when turning off the source of heat, your milk will continue absorbing heat for further 100 C. It will be best for you if you have a frothing thermometer to help monitor the temperature rise.

Normally, the removal of the steaming wand should be approximately 50 C; this should be before obtaining the optimal temperature. When you fail to do this, your milk will end up boiling hence denaturing your protein, and it will hinder the formation of tiny bubbles and foam.

You should note that different types of milk have a different burning point; thus, you should consider practicing frothing your best milk to identify its temperature to help create your most preferred taste.

The process of frothing your milk

Before going through the frothing process, it is highly essential to understand some of the underlying factors that aid in guiding your froth process.

Fats and protein present. Usually, the quality of frothing is determined by fat content and the protein quotient as well in your milk. The protein content will stabilize the air being injected into your milk, allowing it to form froth and small bubbles. Furthermore, the high-fat content will destabilize bubbles; thus, you will not attain any froth.

Temperature. Movement of air molecules is often affected by the temperature of your milk. In order to obtain the perfect sweetness and volume, you should consider heating your milk to a temperature between 57 and 660 degrees Celsius.

You should consider using a frothing thermometer; this will monitor your temperature; you should switch off your heat source once the milk reaches 50 degrees Celsius before attaining optimal temperature.

With that in mind, here are some basic guidelines you should follow when making home-based frothing milk.

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Household kitchenware

A major misconception is that you will require a professional barista to achieve a perfect result when it comes to frothing. Whereas, the level of expertise and the access to advanced equipment tend to offer better results; however, you might as well consider frothing your milk at the comfort of your home. You can consider using your necessary kitchenware to achieve perfect homemade frothed milk. To do this, you will have to;

 1. Shake your jar

You can consider using a jar to froth your milk; this is by far one of the simplest methods. However, this process tends to produce larger bubbles than normal. You will be able to add some texture to your milk giving the traditional taste.

Things you will require for this process include;
  •  Milk
  • Hot source
  • A jar

Process;

You will warm your milk and then pour it to the jar. Once that is done, you will close the lid tightly and then start shaking your jar vigorously. If the milk is hot, you should consider using a kitchen towel to hold your jar; this will help protect you from getting burnt.

Whisking away, this is another basic way you can froth milk while at home.

Requirements;

  •     Milk
  •     Source of heat
  •     Whisk

Process;

You will commence the process by heating and warming your milk. Once it’s ready, you will vigorously start whisking it with your hand to and fro; continue this process until your milk reaches the quality you best prefer.

  • Electricity

You might also consider using an electric hand-held whisk since it is more efficient when it comes frothing your milk than hand whisking.

Requirements

  •      Milk
  •      Source of heat
  •      Electric whisk

Process;

To achieve perfect frothiness, you will heat your milk and then pour it in a cup; however, you should try and avoid filling your cup to the brim to make room for expanding your milk. You will then hold your mixer with your hand until your milk becomes frothed to perfection.

how to make frothed milk at home

2. Blending

Blender is an excellent equipment for making frothed milk.

Requirement;

  •      Milk
  •      Source of heat
  •      Blender

Process;

You will warm your milk and then pour the amount you would like into your blender. Once that is done, you will use medium speed and then blend your milk until you achieve frothiness that will best suit you. It is always advisable to ensure the lid fits perfectly and hold it down using a kitchen towel.

3. Frothing wand

Despite having a small size and a compact shape, a frothing wand is a highly essential kitchenware that is worth purchasing. You can use this tool to whisk and whip your products with the utmost ease. Furthermore, the product comes handy when you froth your milk.

Requirement;

  • Milk
  • Source of heat
  • Frothing wand

Process;

Warm your milk to the recommended temperature, dip the frothing ward into the milk, turn it on, and slowly start whisking the milk in a swirl until the desired froth is achieved.

4. Immersion blending

When it comes to immersion blending, you should use a deeper bowl since it will offer ample room for producing foam and minimize messes and spills.

Requirement;

  • Milk
  • Source of heat
  • Hand-held blender

Procedure;

Warm your milk with a wide and deep pot, immerse the hand-held blender in your milk and ensure that the blades are completely covered. You will then switch the blender on and then continuously blend your milk on low until it becomes frothy; allow it to rest for approximately one minute before pouring in your milk.

5. French press

A French press is a rewarding tool to own since it performs multiple functions.

Requirement;

  • Milk Source of heat French press

Procedure;

Warm your milk on your stove to the appropriate temperature, pour milk into your French press; and always offer room for expansion. Hold the lid down, pump for at least 10 seconds, and then leave your milk to set for one minute before serving.

steamed-milk-vs-foamed-milk

6. Frothing pump

Owning a frothing pump is by far an excellent investment for coffee enthusiasts due to the great creaminess of foam it produces.

Requirement;

  • Milk
  • Source of heat
  • Frothing pump

Procedure;

Warm your milk and then empty it to your frother; you should leave room for milk expansion while frothing. You should then use a vertical motion and then pump its handle from around 15 seconds.

It is best to hold down its frother lid using a towel to avoid being burnt. Leave your milk to sit for approximately a minute before adding your preferred beverage.

7. Espresso machine

Espresso machines are by far the fastest and the simplest way of making frothed milk. This is made possible by its steaming wand that aids in injecting air and utilizes pressure at the same time to heat your milk.

Nevertheless, before the formation of steaming or frothing ensures that your appliances are dry and clean. To achieve this, you will have to place a moist towel on the steam wand while relieving the pressure faucet for a few minutes.

This process will help prevent milk contamination by hot water or any bacteria that might have accumulated in the steaming wand for an extended period.

Requirement;

  • Milk
  • An espresso machine
  • A medium-size metallic pitcher.

Procedure;

Once you have the system preconditioned, you can start working on your froth. You should note that the technique involved in making frothed milk will highly depend on the type of milk you use and the beverage you want to make.

Take your refrigerated milk and then put your desired amount in the metallic pitcher. Usually, a perfect pitcher will offer an elongated handle and great depth for enhancing movement and effortless grip. You will then employ your steaming wand with the curved part hanging outside of your espresso machine.

The steaming wand should then be kept in the pitcher and ensure that the tip of your wand is submerged in the milk slightly. The steam knob of your machine should be turned on in order to power the system.

You should then pull the steam wand away from the center of the milk allowing for a circular vortex. Always focus on maintaining the vortex since it offers a perfect environment for frothing and steaming. Usually, this is indicated with a hissing sound while the air is being injected into the milk.

You should also pay attention to ample room for expansion since it will advise you on the volume that will best suit you. In addition to that, you have to vary the position and movement of your wand, downwards, upwards, and sideways, allowing air to break down the larger bubbles.

Once you achieve a significant increase in the milk’s volume, you should then take the wand from the pitcher. By this time, your milk will have tripled or doubled in quantity.

The frothed milk will give a velvety, smooth texture with a mirror appearance like ice cream as it melts. You should clean your wand once you’re done prior to storing it for use in the next venture. By doing so, you will be able to eradicate the build-up of bacteria.

The process of steaming your milk

On the other hand, when it comes to steaming your milk, the technique involved is a bit different from frothing. Usually, the technique used in steaming your milk will slightly depend if you are making a flat white, a latte or a cappuccino. When it comes to steaming your milk here is the simple and most effective method;

  •  Filling the jug with milk.

This is the first step before steaming the milk. You should pour your milk in a metallic milk pitcher that has been specially designed for steaming. It is highly essential not to use a lot of milk because there will be an increase in volume. Therefore, you should consider pouring the milk under the V nudge of your jug.

  • Stretching your milk. Once everything is set, the next step will be stretching the milk. This is down by submerging the tip of your steam wand below the surface of your milk.
  • You will then start pulling the air into your milk; during the process, the hissing sound will be produced.
  • The time you take to have your milk in this spot will highly depend on the type of beverage you will be making; however, it should be no more than 5 seconds. In this stage, the milk expands and creates foam.
  • Spinning

With enough air pulled into the milk, its volume will stretch; once this is done, you should move the steam further below the surface. It would be best if you were careful; avoiding moving it too far.

It is best to aim 1/5 of an inch. After that, tilt your jug as try to locate the sweet spot that will allow the milk to spin in a whirlpool and incorporate bubbles fully in your milk. You should then finish heating your milk to create a creamy texture.

  • Polishing

Once your milk reaches 140 degrees Fahrenheit, you should stop the steaming process. To get rid of some of the tiny bubbles, tap you jug gently and then swirl it around. Your milk should have a shiny and creamy look.

  • Pour

Usually, the pouring process features two phases. With most of the foam at the top, the first pour has to be aimed to dive in your espresso, allowing the creamy milk to incorporate with your coffee.

The second pour should glide at the top, allowing it to create latte art. As a newbie, it will take you sometime before you pour a perfect Rosetta or Tulip.

Which is the best between steamed and frothed milk?

The best between steamed and frothed milk will highly depend on what suits you the best. Usually, frothed milk tends to have significant volume along with a substantial amount of foam.

On the other hand, steamed milk is heated, and it is more delicately aerated; hence it produces a small amount of micro-foam. Unlike frothed milk, steamed milk is widely used in making various coffee drinks. However, frothed milk tends to be great for foaming filled beverages.

 Choosing the one that will best suit you will depend on the type of coffee drink you are making.

Key points to note;

 Always remember to retain the tip of you steaming wand a few inches beneath your milk’s surface at a proper angle to sustain the elaborate vortex flowing.

 Deep submersion or emergence generates larger bubbles and inferior frothing while the latter is messy as it splashes milk everywhere.

 Continued practice will help identify the right movement for that perfect foam or steam.

 In case of immense bubbling, lower your steaming wand further into your pitcher. Doing this provides additional pressure and allows for proper aeration at a piercing hissing sound.

 Leaving the wand on closer to your milk’s surface creates foam of somewhat higher quality. 

 The recommended temperature for your milk is 1450 F. Any further heating above that temperature scalds your milk, making it taste burnt. 

 In case of persistent large bubbles, lightly tapping your pitcher against a firm surface, for example countertops, and then swirling your milk inside the pitcher may help dissolve them.

 Letting the milk to sit for a minute after achieving your preferred volume and foam, allows the milk that has not texturized to settle at the bottom. However, any subsequent waiting after the initial minute is counterproductive as the milk’s texture starts wearing out.

Final verdict

As a coffee enthusiast, you probably are among the majority who love taking coffee with a bit of milk. The type of milk used in making coffee tends to differ significantly from one individual to another; however, using frothed or steamed milk is considered one of the best ways of enjoying your all-time favorite beverage.

 As we conclude this article, we hope that it has been of great value when it comes to understanding the difference between frothed and steamed milk and which one will best suit your requirement.


FAQs

1. Is there a difference between frothing and steaming milk?

Frothing is definitely different from steaming albeit unrecognizable by the untrained eye. The prevalent difference lies in the technique employed in each process and the end result produced. Generally, steaming involves the transfer of heat to your milk using a steaming wand.

Due to the simplicity of the procedure, the foam generated is somewhat light and lacks impressive texture. With frothing, however, the same steaming wand is dual purposed; it heats up the milk and injecting air molecules into your milk concurrently.

It is this pumping in of air that significantly increases the volume, texture and foam of your milk for hence the creamier, richer taste. 

 2. Which milk type makes the best froth?

There are a number of milk types both dairy and non-dairy that are excellent choices for frothing. The suitability of each the milk type for frothing is dependent on the type of beverage you intend to make. If you do not mind animal produce, whole fat, skimmed, organic, lactose free and the 2% milk types are all perfect dairy choices for making lattes.

Cappuccino lovers will, however, find that working skimmed and 2% milk into a froth is much easier and effortless although the 2% gives offers a creamier, fuller taste of the pair. Although demanding, whole milk delivers the richest cappuccino on the basis of texture and taste. Unfortunately, both organic and lactose free milk do not froth nicely due to their pasteurization processes.

For the vegetarian whom craves a nicely brewed latte, milk from macadamia, almonds, soy, and coconut will satisfy that craving. Soy milk is, however, shortcoming when making cappuccinos since its protein composition does not accommodate bubbling. Any bubbles formed during frothing are thus lost just as quickly. 

 3. Is there an optimal temperature for milk frothing?

Yes. There is an optimal temperature to froth milk since frothing is a technique that demands precision. Experts recommend that you heat your milk to a temperature between 140-1600 F and as such it is prudent to extract your wand from your pitcher 100 C before the 1600 F read.

To be that proactive, you will definitely need to have a frothing thermometer. Otherwise, the milk may start to boil, denaturing the proteins in it and deter the formation of foam.

It is worth noting, however, that different milk types burn at different temperatures hence, it is only by practicing to froth your preferred milk that you will identify the temperature that best suits you. 

 4. Why are some milk types better for frothing than others?

Several factors make some milk types more ideal than other for frothing. These factors, however, revolve around the freshness and the refrigeration of milk. Ideally, once you purchase milk, you should consume it within 10 days. In case your intention is frothed milk, the milk’s freshness is cut done to 5 days for the best texturization.

In addition to freshness, the milk should be cold, refrigerated milk and the trick is to work on it immediately you take it out. Once you have poured out your desired amount, return the remainder to the refrigerator to maintain its freshness.

The protein and fat structures of milk also determine the quality of foam produced. Milk that has been ultra-pasteurized such as lactose free and organic milk, lack the structure to accommodate thick bubbling. Their suitability is thus, restricted to light beverages such as latte.


 5. Does fat content affect the quality of frothing?

Milk is composed of fats and proteins, meaning the content level in the milk chosen ultimately determines the quality of frothing achieved. As opposed to high protein levels producing excellent frothed milk, high fat composition destabilizes the air molecules you inject in your milk. This disruption in the frothing process hinders milk from texturizing hence no froth is formed.

  6. How do I maintain my steaming wand?

Steaming wands provide perfect breeding ground for bacteria hence the need for proper cleaning and maintenance both before and after a froth to maintain their longevity. 

   7. Do I have to be a barista to make the perfect froth?

No, everyone can make a perfect froth professional or not. With dedicated practice and patience, there are several guidelines on how to make frothed milk that are simple for anyone to master.



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